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the difference between an act, a session law, a statute and a law

the difference between an act, a session law, a statute and a law
UMn: http://govpubs.lib.umn.edu/guides/leg.phtml?faq=1#i)
Frequently Asked Questions on Basic Legal Stuff You Should Know
What’s the difference between an act, a session law, a statute and a law?
What’s the difference between the U.S. Code and the Statutes at Large?
What’s the difference between the U.S. Code and the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR)?
What’s the difference between the Federal Register (FR) and the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR)?
How do I find out if a law has led to any regulations?
How do I find out what law led to the regulation I’m interested in?
Which citations go with which publications in a legislative history?
On the U.S. Code and the CFR they put “Title” on the spine – is Title like a chapter?
I have to do a legislative history – where do I start?
How would I find out what the administration’s position on a bill is?
What’s the difference between an act, a statute and a law?
There’s no cut and dried answer, but a good way to think about it is this:
Act: a bill passed by both houses of Congress that has become law. Acts can be published as Slip Laws or “newly enacted legislation”; see Publishing the Law. Acts aren’t published together, but individually. Once published in Statutes at Large, they’re the same as a statute.
Statute: A law enacted by a legislature. “Statute” and “session law” can be used interchangably. Statutes are published in United States Statutes at Large; see Publishing the Law. However, Statutes at Large isn’t cumulative – each volume represents a particular legislative session.
o Note: Because electronic access to laws allows for immediate updates to the Statutes at Large, the forgoing distinction will eventually not be necessary and is already pretty blurry.
Law: The body of rules and principles governing the affairs of a community. Laws would appear in the U.S. Code; see Publishing the Law. Unlike Statutes at Large, a law stays in the U.S. Code as long as it remains in force. Therefore, in a limited sense, each edition of the U.S. Code is cumulative because it contains all the currently valid law for the United States, regardless of when it became law.
The benefit of differentiating between acts, statutes and laws this way is that it allows you to associate a particular publication with a particular term, thus clarifying your research tasks. If you need the law, go to the U.S. Code. If you need the act as passed, go to either the Slip Laws or the Statutes at Large.
What’s the difference between the U.S. Code and the Statutes at Large?
The Statutes at Large are purely a compilation of all the bills that became laws during a congressional session, published in the order that they passed.
The U.S. Code is a compilation of all current law arranged by legal subject.
What this means is that in the Statutes at Large you will find the USA PATRIOT Act, reprinted exactly as it passed Congress: USA PATRIOT Act
In the U.S. Code, you will find the various elements of the USA PATRIOT Act located under the appropriate subject (or “title”): 18 USC 1, 28 USC 524, 18 USC 3056 and so on.
When a statute is published in Statutes at Large, it will generally include notes in the margins indicating where each section will end up in the U.S. Code. If you’ve already started working with a particular law, use the Statutes at Large to help direct your use of the U.S. Code. It’s easier and will help clarify the difference between the two publications.
What’s the difference between the U.S. Code and the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR)?
As you’ve discovered, a few words are used in several different publications. However, with respect to legal issues, “code” refers to a set of currently valid law or regulations arranged by subject. The U.S. Code contains laws – what you’re supposed to do – and the CFR contains regulations – how you’re supposed to do it.
Every regulation in the CFR has to have an “enabling statute” or “statutory authority”. Despite the way it might seem sometimes, agencies cannot just create regulations because they feel like it – there must be a law in force that requires the regulation. That law is the enabling statute. Only after an enabling statute has been created can a regulation be developed.
Therefore, the U.S. Code and the CFR represent different kinds of law and different stages in the legislative process, with the U.S. Code preceeding the CFR.
What’s the difference between the Federal Register (FR) and the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR)?
The FR is the publication in which regulations are published as they are developed and refined and finalized. The CFR is the publication in which final regulations are compiled and arranged by subject.
The FR is published every business day and the CFR is completely re-published every four years, with all the changes in the intervening years included in the new version. However, the advent of electronic access has blurred this distinction somewhat, as changes to both the FR and CFR are added as quickly as possible.
If a regulation is in the CFR, then it will have appeared in the FR because U.S. law requires it to do so. (see Historical Development of the Federal Register). At the end of each section of the CFR will be a history of FR appearances.
For example:
TITLE 9–Animals and Animal Products
CHAPTER III–Food Safety and Inspection Service, Department of Agriculture
PART 319–Definitions and Standards of Identity or Composition
Subpart M–Canned, Frozen, or Dehydrated Meat Food Products
Sec. 319.307 Spaghetti sauce with meat.
“Spaghetti Sauce with Meat” shall contain not less than 6 percent of meat computed on the weight of the fresh meat. Mechanically Separated (Species) may be used in accordance with Sec. 319.6.
[35 FR 15597, Oct. 3, 1970, as amended at 43 FR 26425, June 20, 1978; 47 FR 28257, June 29, 1982]
Note: Not every electronic resource updates its databases at the same speed. In looking for a short example to include, it became apparent that the CFR hosted by GPO Access has not been completely updated and sometimes doesn’t include the history of the newest regulations, whereas the LexisNexis Congressional database is completely updated. If one resource isn’t giving you the expected results, try another.
How do I find out if a law has led to any regulations?
How do I find out what law led to the regulation I’m interested in?
While these are two different questions, they can both be answered using the same resouce: the Parallel Table Of Authorities And Rules (01/2006).
The Parallel Table is found in the index to the CFR. This table correlates laws with their regulations using U.S. Code citations, Statutes at Large citations and Public Law numbers (usually used in context of Slip Laws / Newly Enacted Legislation and included in the Statutes at Large).
Therefore, if you are looking for regulations associated with a particular law, you can use the Table with the following types of citations. What you would find out is that:
Law Pattern Example Enables Regulation
U.S. Code: # U.S.C. # 7 U.S.C. 6b > CFR 17 Part 166
Statutes at Large: # STAT. # 116 STAT. 489 > CFR 7 Part 1470
Public Law Number: P.L. #-# P.L. 107-71 > CFR 14 Part 129
Which citations go with which publications in a legislative history?
Publication Pattern Example
Bills – Congressional Bills: Glossary
House of Representatives – H.R. # H.R. 1362
Senate – S. # S. 85
Hearings House: No specific identifier, but Sudoc # will always start with “Y 4.” Y 4.F 76/1:P 93/16
Senate: “S.HRG.” in call number Y 4.F 76/2: S.HRG. 107-110
Prints House: No specific identifier, but Sudoc # will always start with “Y 4.” Y 4.G 74/7:T 53/2003
Senate: “S.PRT.” in call number Y 4.G 74/9: S.PRT. 107-1
Reports House – H.Rpt. # H.Rpt. 108-56
Senate – S.Rpt. # S.Rpt.108-156
Documents House – H.Doc. # H.Doc. 108-56
Senate – S.Doc. # S.Doc.108-156
Serial Set H/S. Rpt./Doc. # + Serial Set Volume # H.Doc. 108-56 (13401)
Congressional Record CR Page #
The CR is divided into sections, which are indicated in the page number. CR H1013
pg. 1013 of the House section
U.S. Code: # U.S.C. # 7 U.S.C. 6b
Statutes at Large: # STAT. # 116 STAT. 489
Public Law Number: P.L. #-# P.L. 107-71
Federal Register vol. # FR page # 69 FR 11649
Code of Federal Regulations Title # CFR Section # 7 U.S.C. 6b
On the U.S. Code and the CFR they put “Title” on the spine – is Title like a chapter?
In this case, “Title” is means “subject heading”. For example, Title 20 of the U.S. Code is Education. A single Title often spans more than a single volume. In fact, sometimes there’s been so much law on a subject that it has a Title and an Appendix, like Title 26/Internal Revenue Code and Title 26a/Internal Revenue Code (Appendix).
In the CFR Titles are also used, but there’s no guaranteed correlation between the U.S. Code Title number for a subject and its CFR Title number. Continuing with Title 20, which in the U.S. Code is Education, in the CFR it’s Employees’ Benefits.
I have to do a legislative history – where do I start?
You get the most information from the LexisNexis Congressional legislative histories.
This resource includes in its histories all publications that relate to a law:
bills,
reports,
prints,
Congressional Record entries,
hearings and
any Presidential comments from the Weekly Compilation of Presidential Documents.
Provided the law was passed in the last five or so years, some or all of the resources included in the histories will be available in full-text online, as will the final version of the law and it’s entries in the U.S. Code.
GPO Access is the next most useful resource. By using its Public and Private Laws database, you’ll get to the same version of the law as is printed in Statutes at Large. You get citations to everything that LexisNexis gives except for hearings, as the images below show,
 
How would I find out what the administration’s position on a bill is?
You can find out adminstration’s position on a current bill by checking out the Statements of Administration Policy on Non-Appropriations and Appropriations Bills.
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